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A vivid, engaging account of the artists and artworks that sought to make sense of America's first total war, Grand Illusions takes readers on a compelling journey through the major historical events leading up to and beyond US involvement in WWI to discover the vast and pervasive influence of the conflict on American visual culture. David M. Lubin presents a highly original examination of the era's fine arts and entertainment to show how they ranged from patriotic idealism to profound disillusionment.
In stylishly written chapters, Lubin assesses the war's impact on two dozen painters, designers, photographers, and filmmakers from 1914 to 1933. He considers well-known figures such as Marcel Duchamp, John Singer Sargent, D. W. Griffith, and the African American outsider artist Horace Pippin while resurrecting forgotten artists such as the mask-maker Anna Coleman Ladd, the sculptor Gertrude Vanderbilt Whitney, and the combat artist Claggett Wilson. The book is liberally furnished with illustrations from epoch-defining posters, paintings, photographs, and films. Armed with rich cultural-historical details and an interdisciplinary narrative approach, David Lubin creatively upends traditional understandings of the Great War's effects on the visual arts in America.